At a time when the country is experiencing civil unrest in major cities, (due to among other things racism), Robert Fuller’s body was found hanging from a tree in Palmdale, California, last month. His case attracted national attention after his family said they didn’t believe he was suicidal.
Authorities in California on Thursday said the official cause of death for Robert Fuller, a 24-year-old Black man whose body was found hanging from a tree in a public park last month, was suicide.
Commenting about his death, his family voiced suspicion about the suspected cause of death. But a Los Angeles County medical examiner has officially ruled it to be a suicide following a full investigation by the sheriff’s department.
“This event drew a lot of media concern, community concern,” LA County Sheriff Alex Villanueva told reporters at a press briefing on Thursday. “And the timing of it, in the wake of the civil unrest and all that’s transpired across the nation, it brought a lot of attention based on the past history of our nation and the rather odd manner in which this death occurred.”
“We left no stone uncovered,” he added.
Fuller was found dead at Poncitlán Square across from Palmdale City Hall at 3:39 a.m. on June 10. Amid the Black Lives Matter protests sweeping the US, his family said they were suspicious of early findings that he had killed himself.
“We really want to find out the truth of what really happened,” sister Diamond Alexander said at a rally several days after Fuller’s body was discovered. “Everything that they’ve been telling us has not been right. … My brother was not suicidal. He wasn’t.”
The FBI and Department of Justice had said they would review Fuller’s death, as well as that of another Black man, Malcolm Harsch, whose body had also also found hanging from a tree about 50 miles away 10 days earlier.
Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Commander Chris Marks said Thursday that an investigation found Fuller had an extensive background dealing with mental issues and had received extensive treatment for mental health issues, including hearing voices telling him to kill himself. He had also been hospitalized for suicidal ideation and depression.
Detectives found Fuller’s EBT card had been used a month earlier to buy a rope from a Dollar Tree store — the same type of rope used in the suicide. What business in this country accepts EBT as a payment form for rope is still somewhat of a mystery however.
There were no signs of a struggle at the park, nor did Fuller have any defensive wounds indicating he had tried to fight off an attacker, Marks said.
Alexander, Fuller’s sister, did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the medical examiner’s ruling.